Protest to fuel oil price row

Protest to fuel oil price row

More strikes to come if govt doesn't react

A campaign is under way to press the government to slash excise tax on oil for a year to bring the prices of petrol and diesel down to 25 baht a litre.

The Thai Energy Reform Network (Tern) has launched the "Car Power" movement urging motorists to tie ribbons on their vehicles in solidarity to pressure the government to cut the excise tax on all types of oil.

The campaign was mounted in parallel to the planned second "Truck Power" protest where trucks nationwide will converge in Bangkok on Nov 16 to renew their demand for the diesel price to be lowered to 25 baht a litre for a year.

Tern, led by activist Ittaboon Onwangsa and former senator Rosana Tositrakul, on Sunday vowed to hold a sustained campaign, saying the cost of oil directly affects the prices of goods and people's standard of living.

Mr Ittaboon said motorists and the general public should send a clear message to the government that they are struggling due to the high prices.

He said 25 baht a litre is on par with rates charged in Malaysia and Myanmar.

Now that Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed, forums should be opened to people where they can offer input on how to solve energy issues.

"The state should return 100 billion baht a year it collects in oil excise tax to the people to keep the price of oil low for consumers," he said.

The reduction should apply to prices of all types of oil, not just diesel, he added.

People are reeling from the economic malaise brought about by the pandemic crisis and the government should help them by making oil cheaper, he said, suggesting a revamp of oil price structure will bring about a long-term solution to the problem. Few other details were available on the shape that such a revamp should take.

Ms Rosana said the government has the power to peg the price of oil at 25 baht a litre.

"People are already in deep financial trouble as a result of the pandemic and the government should come to their aid by controlling oil prices, which in turn will push down the prices of goods," she said.

Meanwhile, the current diesel price of 30 baht a litre has pushed truck operators, already feeling the financial crunch from the pandemic, deeper into the red, according to truck associations.

Thanasan Kulapesaranont, deputy secretary-general of the Northeastern Transport Association, slammed the government for sitting on its hands over the diesel price surge.

He said the truck operators are going ahead with a plan to stage a second Truck Power protest.

"The trucks will definitely meet in Bangkok on Nov 16," he said.

The first such protest on Nov 1 saw 20% of freight transport lorries nationwide coming together in a show of force.

They rallied at major transport depots in Bangkok and several other provinces with signs strung across the sides of their trucks calling for the price of diesel to be cut.

Mr Thanasan said that if necessary, truck operators will increase the prices of freight in line with the high diesel prices.

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